Carbon Sciences is a Santa Barbara, California company that has developed a proprietary process to recycle carbon dioxide emissions into gasoline and other liquid fuels.
The company breaks down CO2 and extracts the carbon atoms to make new hydrocarbon chains. According to its web site, Carbon Sciences’ process requires less energy and is more scalable than previous known techniques, which used expensive inorganic catalysts.
The key to the process is a multi-step biocatalysis that uses organic biocatalysts. The company’s biocatalytic method uses inexpensive, renewable biomolecules to catalyze certain chemical reactions required to transform CO2 and water into fuel molecules.
Through nano-engineering of the biocatalysts and efficient process design, Carbon Sciences can operate these catalysis steps on a large industrial scale. In particular, the company’s smart particle technology provides improved encapsulation of the enzymes that prolongs their effective lives and allows them to perform many reaction cycles.
The major components of the process are a CO2 Flue Gas Processor, a a Biocatalyst Unit, a Biocatalytic Reactor Matrix, a Filtration system and a conversion and polishing unit.
The Biocatalytic Reactor Matrix is the heart of the process. It is here, in a matrix of liquid reaction chambers, that the large quantities of biocatalysts perform the multi-stage breakdown of CO2 and transformation to hydrocarbons.
The company’s CEO, Byron Elton, told me that Carbon Sciences has filed four as yet unpublished patent applications directed to its CO2 recycling process. Elton expects the company to file 4-6 more new patent applications this year.
Carbon Sciences owns U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2008/0277319 (‘319 Application), entitled “Fine particle carbon dioxide transformation and sequestration.” According to Elton, the ‘319 Application covers the company’s initial forays into carbon capture and sequestration.
The ‘319 Application is directed to methods and systems for breaking down carbon dioxide into micron- or sub-micron-sized particles, classifying or separating out the particles of a desired size and reacting those particles to form mineral carbonates.
Carbon Sciences’ technology extends into several aspects of CO2 capture, sequestration and recycling, including advanced chemical processes that can use flue gas and brackish water to capture CO2 emissions and scrub it to yield pure CO2.
Because the market for gasoline and liquid fuels is likely to remain quite large for some time, Carbon Sciences’ recycling process provides an interim carbon mitigation option: use the CO2 molecule twice.